Originally Posted by calbear
Welcome to AVSForum and my thread. Thank you for your kind words. I think you are being too generous with them!
To answer your questions, I believe the best route will have been to direct you to MississippiMan, since he suggested the idea of a starfield to me, as well as arranged for all the details, including the hardware and the process. He is extremely knowledgeable, and I am sure that his PM was very thorough in answering your questions. For the benefit of our fellow members, I will try to answer your questions briefly.
I could never do that......
1. I don't recall the vendor for the fiber optic cable. MississippiMan is a good point of contact to provide that information. I bought two large spools of continuous fiber optic cable. If memory serves me correctly (and MississippiMan please interject if my memory failed me), they were each 1500 meter spools. The thickness of the cable is all the same.
Yes...1500 meters ea. Fiber Diameter is 1 Millimeter
You will find that most of the stars which comprise the Milky Way are of the same size, and the constellation stars (which twinkle) are of the same size, although seemingly larger and definitely brighter than the Milky Way stars.
Actually that is reversed. The majority of Stars, the Milky Way Stars twinkle. Constellation Stars (far fewer) are of a constant illumination...just as they are above us. They appear larger because of this constant illumination. Planets can also be accommodated by placing two Fibers in a larger, reamed out hole. By coloring the last 6" with a indelible marker (Red for Mars...a light "bright" Blue for Venus...) and putting those fibers also in with the Constellation group, they become very noticeable fixtures.
2. I believe the concept behind the melting of the ends was from the manufacturer, since they recommend purchasing a little tool which connects a wire, and with a variable voltage knob, can increase the heat given through the wire. This is held straight and moved across the ends of the fiber optic cable, which melts it off pretty much instantaneously and at the same time, "mushrooms" the end of cable. This permits you to push the end back up to make it flush with the ceiling. I also think the mushrooming also allows a better view of the light, as it is now more of a globe, rather than a snipped off and sharp end. The manufacturer actually asks you to put a deposit for the tool, and once you are done with it, you can return it for your deposit amount. For reference of what the tool looks like, you can go back to my post #197, which provide pictures and details of the little makeshift frame that I made for the wire.
It's called a Variac Transformer. The wire becomes "red hot" and care must be taken to not burn it 'apart' with too much voltage. Also, it'll most assuredly will leave you branded
if you are not careful.
When pulling the Fibers, enough slack is held back just above the Ceiling to allow one to pull at least 8"" below the ceiling into the room, while still leaving a couple inches of slack above. Then the Ceiling is sprayed....covering the exposed Fibers with paint. Lastly, with a gentle tug to expose some unpainted Fiber, the Fiber is melted, then pushed back up against the Ceiling. One thing to consider....the Fiber Optic Cable is by far the largest expenditure, so you don't want "wastage". Judicious planning and effective layout design is required to assure that enough Fiber length remains at each end to work with, while also assuring that you don't run out of Fiber before the end of the Project.
3. The 1000+ cables are all connected into a box which contains a spinning wheel. There are preset holes in the box where it designates the Milky Way stars, the Constellation stars, as well as the two sets of "shooting stars" that we have situated in the front and the middle of the ceiling. You also have the option of adding colored cellophane filters, which change the color of your stars. I have not played with it, as the default without any color filters looks the most realistic.
...and what a painstaking amount of detail work it is to poke those Fibers through the small, closely grouped 1 mil. holes on the Plate on the Box!
Those also have to be "melted" to prevent their being pulled out.
4. The ceiling is actually drywall with smoothed out plaster, and painted with the flattest darkest black paint I could find.
Drywall installations seem the best as far as incorporating such a design element into a conventional room.
5. I had to tell them the size of my ceiling, and they custom made a template which had the markings for the constellations and milky way stars. We could put the two shooting stars in any orientation we wished, but the rest of the 920+ stars were placed in specific locations and orientation.
The Star Field Design chosen was the Night Sky as seen in Winter in the Southern Hemisphere. It's a stunning visual effect...one that really cannot even begin to be done justice in photos.
6. With the templates taped into place, the manufacturer provided us the correct drill bits to make 1000+ tiny holes. They were drilled from inside the room. Once the holes were done, then we had to decide where the box would be placed. This would allow us to decide how far each group of 10 stars were from the box, and have us cut ten cables accordingly. The 10 cables would be bundled together, and then taken up to the crawlspace, where each cable would be fed down to each hole and then placed where the box was located. You can imagine this had to be done a 100+ times. It was very tedious work, and crawling on your belly in the hot, short, and cramped crawlspace/attic was very unpleasant. In addition, all the insulation had to be taken away and moved to be placed back after completion. This was a pain, since each insulation section was not the same, so you had to take tabs on where they belonged as they were taken away. I am lucky that I had a contractor willing to go up there and do it. He was the right size to fit up there, and is a hard worker, so the difficult part of the starfield ceiling was mostly done by him.
Thank God for large favors!!! Labor costs are by far the most daunting aspect of having a specialized Installer do such a system. calbear's man, Juan Carlos really didn't have a clue at the start what he was getting into by having to crawl around on his belly in a Attic in near summer heat for a few days, poking his nose between Studs and squinting to see tiny "Pin Prick-like' holes. I'll say this on his behalf; I don't think I've ever met a single individual in my 30+ years with A/V that has ever shown the desire out of hand to tackle a specific chore about which he knew so little, yet be so determined to do it right the first time. I'd steal him away if I could...but I dare not. He's too much competition for my beer supply.
Can't have that!!!
I did the work from inside the room, including melting all the ends after we painted the ceiling black. The lighting control for the stars is connected to my Lutron GrafikEye system. Unfortunately, the lights do not dim. They are either on or they are off, but I do not necessarily see that as a limitation.
The Light Engine / Illuminator employs a Metal Halide bulb w/Transformer that cannot accommodate a "dimmer". Intensity is controlled by use of a "Gray Blanket Filter" if such is needed. It seldom is.
If you have further questions, please feel free to ask me, although I can not promise that I will get back to you in a timely manner (as a number of members who have read my thread can vouch that my updates are few and far between). However, I will state that MississippiMan is on AVSForum all the time, and he can promptly and thoroughly be able to answer your questions.
I'm glad to do so for any/everybody so interested. Individuals such as calbear who ask for advice, take it to breast, and then work additionally all the more harder than expected to make it all that it can be are the true motivation for helping others realize such dreams. While this Theater is most assuredly not a "budget' effort, don't even think that a great deal of time and consideration was not spent as to making it 'affordable'. calbear is nothing if not practical in all his decisions...and I applaud his efforts as being both resplendent, inspiring to the maximum, and a source of justifiable pride for all those involved.
I am happy that you can take some styling inspirations and layout from my theater. I wish you luck with your project and look forward to seeing your thread posted soon. Please be sure to come back here and provide a link once you get started.
Isky, you absolutely must do that !!!! 'Tis mandatory to give back into the Fold if help is just as freely given. If your project is started when I get down under, I'll snap some shots myself. That is....if the Saltys don't "snap" me first while I'm surfing.